Offensive line play is predicated around cohesion with teammates. Given that SU returns four starters to its rotation next year, that should bode well for a team in desperate search of a running game. Not to mention, consistent pass protection can only help quarterback Eric Dungey’s chances of making it through a full season.
From Syracuse Football’s 2018 Media Guide
Star of the Group: Cody Conway
Conway is quietly one of the best tackles in the ACC. The Illinois native collected 2018 Preseason All-ACC honors from Athlon, Lindy’s and Phil Steele. Conway is more than solid in both the pass and run games, providing great protection for Dungey’s blind side. But perhaps the best thing about Conway is his durability. He’s played in 27 games over his first three seasons, including the 20 consecutive start streak he currently holds. In SU’s biggest games last season, Conway was there leading the way. Against LSU, he recorded four knockdown blocks in 79 snaps. Later in the season against Clemson, he played all 93 of his team’s snaps and recorded a team-high four knockdowns. Conway combined with McGloster last season to give SU one of the best duos at tackle in the ACC.
Something to Prove: Aaron Roberts
Going into camp, Roberts is in a battle with fellow guard Sam Heckel for the starting left guard spot. As a redshirt senior, Roberts has appeared in 15 career games. The Chicago native missed the entire 2017 season last year with a knee injury. The motivation for Roberts in camp this summer is clear: prove he can play at a high level again. Even though Heckel took over for Roberts successfully last season, Roberts is still seen as the frontrunner to start the season at left guard. The reason for that? A breakout sophomore campaign in 2016. Roberts started all 12 games and led the offensive line in snaps and knockdown blocks.
As I mentioned earlier, this front five has plenty of experience. On top of that, other than Martin, the group is fairly used to playing with one another. In year’s past, Babers has had younger players with little to no experience. That simply isn’t going to translate to wins in the ACC. You could see Babers’ face light up when we asked him about this position at the 2018 ACC Kickoff. He knows the offensive line is better, all thanks to the groups experience.
Questions still remain about Martin, who missed some time with the Aggies due to injuries and was loaded into an ambulance after a heat stroke during offseason workouts. When you couple that with Roberts who missed the entire 2017 season, you start to worry if injuries could become a factor.
The Orange will have its best offensive season under Dino Babers this year thanks to this group. In the past, fans have blamed Dontae Strickland and Moe Neal for Syracuse’s lackluster running game. This year’s front five will change that narrative this year by providing the SU backs with room to run. On top of that, a savy offensive line keeps Dungey healthy for most, if not all, of the 2018 season.
Be sure to keep it locked here at orangefizz.net and on Twitter @OrangeFizz to keep up with all of our positional previews. Look out for Monday’s running backs preview with Tim Leonard. Check out our other positional previews with the 2018 season right around the corner:
DEFENSE: Defensive End (8/8) | Defensive Tackle (8/20) | Linebacker (8/22) | Cornerback (8/17) | Safety
SPECIAL TEAMS: Punter/Kicker (8/15) | Return Specialists (8/24)